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Glacier Bay National Park is one of many gems on the string of breathtaking sights in Alaska’s Inside Passage. Most people who make a trip will do so as part of an Alaska cruise. Those cruise itineraries typically include a stop at Icy Strait Point. Icy Strait Point is a locally-owned and operated cruise-port near the small community of Hoonah.

If you’re struggling to choose an Icy Strait Point cruise excursion, I’m here to help. I spent three summers (2005-2007) working for one of the major cruise companies. During that time I had to make recommendations for excursions for thousands of Alaska cruisers. I put these Icy Strait Point cruise excursions in the order based on what I know Alaska visitors will love. I also keep in mind some of the other tips on choosing Alaska cruise excursions I’ve previously shared. These factors include uniqueness, cost, time, and cost-to-time ratio.

Read on for the best Icy Strait Point cruise excursions, and which cruise companies offer each one.


Who Offers Icy Strait Point Alaska Cruise Excursions?

In my research, I found that 15 of 21 cruise companies operating in Alaska offered a port stop in Icy Strait Point/Hoonah. Of those 15 companies, 11 have listed Alaska cruise excursions in Juneau for the 2020 season: Carnival CruisesCelebrity CruisesDisney Cruise LinesHolland AmericaNorwegian Cruise LineOceania Cruises, Princess Cruise LinesRegent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal CaribbeanViking Cruises, and Windstar Cruises. Several other cruise companies also list that they have Icy Strait Point cruise excursions but no details on their site: Azamara, Cunard, Hurtigruten, and Seabourn.

Both Disney Cruises and Royal Caribbean offer the greatest number of excursions in Icy Strait Point. They each have 30 different excursions available.

Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and Royal Caribbean all offer all nine of the cruise excursions I recommend below. If you want to have a difficult choice – but a great experience no matter what – I recommend booking with one of those companies.

Note: To the best of my knowledge, the cruise excursions listed in this post are accurate for the 2020 Alaska cruise season. However, there may be inaccuracies or schedule changes that I haven’t yet added. Also, if you see an excursion you love which isn’t offered by your cruise company, be sure to check their website as the final resource on which cruise excursions are offered in Icy Strait Point.

The Best Icy Strait Point Cruise Excursions

Given how many cruise companies offer a number of interesting and unique excursions in Icy Strait Point, it was hard to choose which ones to recommend. But, I’ve weighed the options and consider these nine to be the best Icy Strait Point and Hoonah cruise excursions.

1. Glacier Bay Flightseeing

What makes Icy Strait Point a port worth visiting is obviously its proximity Glacier Bay National Park. And what better way to see Glacier Bay than on a flightseeing tour? You already know that I recommend flightseeing tours as part of my tips for choosing Alaska cruise excursions. Flightseeing tours are usually more expensive on a cost-per-hour basis. But, because their experience is impossible to replicate, I usually consider them worth it.

On this specific excursion, you’ll fly from Hoonah across Point Adolphus, over Glacier Bay, and along Brady Glacier. You’ll get to see a massive ice cap, learn about the geomorphology that formed Glacier Bay, and try to spot whales on the waterways below you during the flight. This is a breathtaking way to see Glacier Bay – and why it’s the best Icy Strait Point cruise excursion.

Who Offers This Excursion?

While this excursion is only offered by Celebrity, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean, it’s definitely a must-do if you’re on one of their ships!

2. Spasski River Valley Wildlife & Bear Search

Icy Strait Point Excursions - Rob Bertholf via Flickr
Photo credit: Rob Bertholf via Flickr

Wildlife is one of the main draws for visitors who want to cruise in Alaska. Unfortunately, the biggest ships have a tendency to scare off a lot of the wildlife you hope to see. To increase your chances, you need to get off the big boat, get on two feet, and get out in the Alaska wild.

This excursion is a gentle walking tour that lasts 2.5 to 3 hours depending on the wildlife you see. After a short bus ride to the Spasski River Valley, you’ll take a guided tour along a boardwalk and gravel path into a habitat that Alaskan brown bear are known to frequent. There’s no guarantee, of course, but that’s part of what makes the excursion an adventure! You can potentially also see bald eagles, Sitka black-tailed deer, and otters.

Who Offers This Excursion?

You can book this excursion with almost all of the cruise companies, including Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Viking, and Windstar.

3. In Alaska’s Wildest Kitchen

Foodie cruisers, this one’s for you! I try to include a food tour on every one of the posts in this series; I believe food is one of the best ways to experience culture.

This excursion you’ll sample some of the food Alaskans love to enjoy, learn from a local chef about how to filet and prepare fresh Alaskan seafood, and then try your hand preparing some for yourself. As a souvenir, you’ll get recipe cards so you can try to prepare these meals once you return home.

Who Offers This Excursion?

Cook up a good time on this excursion; you can book it if you’re cruising on Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, and Royal Caribbean.

4. Hoonah Sightseeing & Tribal Dance

The hardest part of each list of the best Alaska cruise excursions that I write is putting them in an order to help you choose. After all, some Alaska visitors love the epic sweeping views, some prefer wildlife viewing, some want food, others culture, and still others need an adrenaline rush… Like I said, ranking is hard!

So if the first few of the Icy Strait Point excursions I’ve recommended didn’t really ring true to you, maybe this one will. This Hoonah Sightseeing and Tribal Dance excursion is perfect for those who want to immerse themselves in Alaskan native culture. If you’ve planned an excursion like this elsewhere on your tour, you’ll soon see that there are some similarities but also the unique aspects of each community.

Learn about the Tlingit people and their history in the region, then enjoy a performance of a tribal dance and explanation of cultural legends. (This excursion is also great for all ages!)

Who Offers This Excursion?

Culture vultures cruising on Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Viking, and Windstar can book this excursion.

5. Heli, Bike & Hike Adventure

Icy Strait Point Excursions - Helicopter - Matthew Reece for USFS
Photo credit: Matthew Reece for the U.S. Forest Service

At this point in most Alaska cruise excursions, you’ve had a few days on the boat. You probably need to burn off a few of those ‘unlimited drinks’ or specialty dining meals, right? This is the excursion to help keep you feeling health and well!

On this 2- to 3-hour excursion, you’ll board a helicopter, cruise up to the top of mountain, unload your bikes, and ride back down. Along the way, most guides stop to take you on short hikes for even better views. It’ll be hard to keep your eyes on the trail with all the epic scenery around you!

Who Offers This Excursion?

This popular and thrilling excursion is offered by Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, and Royal Caribbean.

6. Adventure Park & ZipRider Combo

Icy Strait Point Excursions - ZipRider - Werner Bayer

Zip-lining is so in right now. ??‍♀️

I mean, you can zip-line in many ports around the world, so is it any surprise that there’s an epic zip-lining experience in Alaska? Or that it’s the largest in the world – kind of like Alaska is the largest state?

This is a four-hour excursion that includes an obstacle course – dubbed the ‘Adventure Park,’ – made up of a log bridge, climbing planks, fishermen’s net, and more. After you successfully conquer that, you’ll hook into the first of six zip-lines. You’ll descend from an elevation of 1,330 feet back to sea level along those six zips – at times you may be going as fast as 60 miles per hour and at heights of 300 feet above the ground!

(This Icy Strait Point excursion is not for those who are faint of heart or afraid of heights!)

Who Offers This Excursion?

Chase your adrenaline fix by booking this excursion on Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Oceania, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, and Royal Caribbean.

7. Chichagof Island Wilderness Hike

Icy Strait Point Excursions - Chichagof Island - Lisa Hupp for USFWS

Alaska is full of epic hikes, and you might want to experience some of that for yourself on your Alaska cruise. The Chichagof Island wilderness hike excursion is a good opportunity. After a drive through (and out of) town, you’ll leave the crowds behind and head onto Alaska native-owned lands where you’ll disembark and start your wilderness hike. The trail is a moderate 2-mile hike that includes panoramic views of Chichagof Island and the surrounding waterways.

Who Offers This Excursion?

This excursion is offered by Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, and Viking.

8. Halibut Fishing

I get a lot of questions about fishing in Alaska. So, when I see a good Alaska cruise excursion for fishing, I recommend it! Typically, I recommend halibut fishing charters in Seward, but if your itinerary doesn’t allow that, here’s an alternative.

On this 3.5-hour charter, you’ll board a locally-operated boat and head out onto the waters of Icy Strait. Purchase your fishing license, put your line in, and hope for good fishermen’s luck! If you do have the fortune to hook a halibut, the boat company will ship it home to you.

Who Offers This Excursion?

Grab a motion sickness patch and book this excursion on Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, and Windstar.

9. Discovering Birds of Hoonah

Skagway Cruise Excursions - Eagle Float

For the last of the Icy Strait Point excursions I recommend, I’ve decided to tip my hand and reveal my true nerdiness. (After all, I say hi to my local crows and put out plants specifically for hummingbirds… I’m a covert birder! ?)

If you are less-than-covert about birding, book this excursion. A local guide will take you out to spot dozens of species of perching birds, seabirds, ducks, gulls, and bald eagles. You’ll be provided with binoculars and other gear you might need. And best of all: the proceeds of this excursion support the Juneau Audubon Society.

Who Offers This Excursion?

You can sign up to use your eagle eyes to try and spot eagles (and other birds) if you’re cruising on Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, and Royal Caribbean.

Which of these Icy Strait Point excursions will you book? If you have questions or comments, let me know below!

Keep Planning Your Alaska Cruise!

My eBook, Alaska’s Best Cruise Excursions, will help you wade through all the excursions in each port to make the best choice for each stop on your Alaska cruise itinerary.

Get your copy for just $9.99!

Photo credits: Icy Strait Point building (L) – Moira Dunworth; Glacier Bay flightseeing (R) – Joseph; salmon on grill – Didriks; Tlingit tribal dance – James Brooks; halibut fisherman – Bryan Wilkins; all via Flickr

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